Game Workers Unite condemns ArenaNet for Guild Wars 2 developer firings

Grassroots advocacy group Game Workers Unite posted a statement on Pricegate today, “emphatically denouncing” ArenaNet for firing Guild Wars 2’s Jessica Price and Peter Fries over last week’s Twitter/Reddit meltdown.

“Regardless of how one feels about Price’s actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price’s tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to,” the statement said.

The group labeled Mike O’Brien as a “clearly inadequate” leader who “made the knee-jerk reaction” last week to fire the two developers.

“ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players,” the group wrote. “This event carries echoes of Gamergate, and will only embolden harassers further.”

Game Workers Unite formed earlier this year as a possible up-and-coming union — or at least, a collection of unions — for professionals in the video games industry.

Further reading on the incident and ensuing fallout:

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Bryan Correll

Twitter is evil and Reddit is like a fire in a tire yard. I recommend avoiding both. And stay away from Facebook, too.

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Stiqman

““ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players,”

Except, no. The ArenaNet incident had nothing to do with a vitrolic or volatile player. It was a very polite reply to a public post where the gamer tentatively offered a (quote) “slight disagreement” in a courteously worded response.

GWU painting this narrative as though these people were fired for defending themselves against a toxic player is completely backwards. They dumped vitriol on a courteous fan who politely offered another perspective. Shame on GWU for blatantly dishonest spin doctoring here.

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Fervor Bliss

Well at least the next convention QW2 decides to attend will be interesting.

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mike foster

Here’s an open question somewhat related: Dealing with toxic players is considered part of the price of entry for anyone who works in game development. Anyone who puts themselves in the line of fire gets massive amounts of crazy shit (I get about two death threats a month, and that’s with being very behind-the-scenes), up to and including having your home address leaked and people calling you on your private phone.

Is that an expectation we’re comfortable foisting on designers, engineers, writers, and artists? Or is it something we’re comfortable with them pushing back on?

(and just as a disclaimer, I don’t think the guy who replied to her in this instance was representative of the type of behavior I’m talking about)

Emmanuel Carabott
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Emmanuel Carabott

I think this is a gigantic problem that I have no clue how it can ever be solved. In an idyllic world people should realize that such behaviour is counter productive and realize if civil discourse doesn’t bring the change they desire nothing will. Ironically part of that can only be achieved through dev interaction imho. In the sense sometimes I imagine part of this anger comes because the game they love takes direction X while they wanted direction Y. If the motivation behind that decision are made public perhaps those people will be more open to them.

Failing that I dont know what will. Perhaps if we make it a social problem and try to fix it at a society level and by that I mean people who go as far as making death threats are actually tracked down and prosecuted it would deter further attacks.

One thing is for sure though there is no way its fair to expect anyone live with it and smile while doing it. I dont work in such an environment by honestly it makes me angry to think these people give us their free time sharing with us some of the secrets that go into the secret sauce and they have to live with this. And part of why I’ve been so outspoken on this incident is specifically because after factoring all that how can we ask them to pay the ultimate professional price the moment they snap.

Personally I am totally okey with occasional outburst, everything thats building pressure inside needs to let it out now and then. Thats not to say they should be allowed to act with impunity but of course there is a whole sea separating something like name calling from a death threat. Besides the community still has complete control, if a dev/artist/designer/engineer/etc… steps out of line to the point we find offense to me the solution is simple, stop following them there is no need to have your pound of flesh unless what they did truly deserves that pound of flesh so to speak.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, sorry, she had been in multiple discussions, according to the A-Net management, about her tendency to be… unprofessionally confrontational. The other guy, maybe, should have gotten something else. He wasn’t quite so over the top, and from what I read seemed far more willing to accept that people were not trying to attack her.

She, on the other hand, played the passive aggressive victim… yet again. After so many times, when behavior does not improve, management will terminate employees. Duh.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Where did “A-Net management” say she had been in “multiple discussions about her tendency to be unprofessionally confrontational”?

Edit: I’m asking because this seems to be pure fabrication or a misunderstanding on your part of what’s been said, possibly because the usual suspects keep repeating their assumptions/memes as if they are fact and confusing people new to the discussion. It would be absolutely gigantic news if it were remotely true, and it’s nearly impossible to believe since ArenaNet has clammed up tight and isn’t commenting on whether it even has a social media policy, let alone on its past personnel interactions.

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Geoffrey Smith

Internet Dude talks out rear end about female game developer…. shocking!

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Cosmic Cleric

Yeah, sorry, she had been in multiple discussions, according to the A-Net management, about her tendency to be… unprofessionally confrontational.

Citation?

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

He doesn’t have one. Because there isn’t one.

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Cosmic Cleric

Yeah I know. Just calling him out, wanted to give him a chance to back up his words with facts.

I’m not usually rude that way, but kind of tired of people making up feces, and for someone to ‘bear false witness against their neighbor’, that just rubs me the wrong way.

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Kevin McCaughey

At the risk of being lynched for having already expressed an opinion, can someone link a good summary of who said what please? I want to have a good read through it out of curiosity.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Yes, those summaries are linked in the post. This one runs down everything with links. The first sections of Tina’s column recaps it in a more flowy way. The podcast has the full recap for people who want to listen rather than read.

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Kevin McCaughey

Thanks Bree.

DerpyDerp
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DerpyDerp

I will say I see both sides of the argument. Neither side of the argument is wrong or right, just different in their opinions of what should of happened and did happen. I’m of the they screwed up bad and got fired camp, but doesn’t mean the other camp that thinks a smaller punishment should of been dealt is wrong, just different in opinion. In the end what is done is done and we can only speculate as to the whole story of it all.

Choices were made, right or wrong and the outcome is done. But perhaps it is a learning experience for both sides of the coin.

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MrNastyButler

Both Price and Anet made incorrect choices.

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Serrenity

I’m really disheartened by the number of comments below that basically amount to: “HA! B*tch got what she deserved…” It’s really sad.

Price was wrong, and corrective action absolutely should have been taken. But MO / Anet did the wrong thing — and there are a myriad of other actions that can and should have been taken before termination. The fact that Anet responded is not problematic – the severity is the problem.

DerpyDerp
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DerpyDerp

I don’t see the problem, I really don’t. When you go off and call your partners a “Rando Asshat” for no other reason than he made a few suggestions, on a personal twitter, open to the public, while discussing the post she made, all while being associated to the company you work for, well you deserve to be fired.

As for the other fellow, well don’t tell your customers you don’t care about their input or feedback. That just isn’t smart. ANet likes their customers to know they do listen and try to take all the feedback in. When you basically tell them, “Screw y’all, I don’t give a shit what you say, I’ll do it my way and you’ll like it.”, well, you can expect you don’t need to work at a place that ask for customer input and wants their feedback on anything they care to share it on. Maybe best that employee moves on to something else.

All that aside, you just don’t go on to any social media outlet and bad mouth your work place, partners (of any kind), employees at the work place or employers. And you really don’t do any of that while associated to your place of employment.

She got fired for being rude and disrespectful to a partner (while associated with ANet) and he got fired for telling customers their feedback isn’t valued or cared about (not sure if he has he is associated with them anywhere there, but the comment alone is what did that in). They did get what was needed. Don’t make dumb remarks while representing your employer is the take away we can get from this.

That and really, most places now have a clause in their contract that states you can and will be dismissed for anything that can and may slander the company name. In this case perhaps slander while associated to the company. Since she wasn’t fired for being thankful someone died from cancer while associated to ANet. I can only guess this time it was because she was associated to it.

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Robert Mann

Yep. I highly doubt she was never talked to about her previous interactions. Regardless, her personal twitter was linked to her profession. She chose to give up any anonymity there. Given that choice, she was representing A-Net.

Can’t do that, and do things like what she did, and expect to have a fun time. As for him, I don’t think he really went there. I felt like he was trying to say she was good at what she did, but really just didn’t think through supporting statements that she was making (or didn’t read that far) where she was insulting customers for daring to have an opinion. I think his case could easily have been worked with, especially if he offered an apology for supporting something that expressed such opinions (easy enough to understand a passionate response to seeing somebody you know and respect being ‘attacked’).

She was definitely in need of being fired after her history of comments while associated. He… probably should have been given a choice. That is, so long as he does not have a history I am unaware of.

Her activism is fine, but she really needs to tone down attacking everyone who disagrees with her at all, or with whom she disagrees. That’s no longer activism, it’s asshattery.

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Geoffrey Smith

What you “highly doubt” and what is are not always the same thing. Operating from a presumption of facts not in evidence is a weak stance to fall back on.

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Robert Mann

About as weak as presuming that, with her history there, there was not even a peep about being less… extreme.

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John Kiser

I think the severity was warranted given her past behavior. It is very very likely that this wasn’t her first offense and that she did in fact “deserve” to be fired at this point. It seems like she’s had past incidents where she has been fired from elsewhere for being toxic. She found joy in totalbiscuit dying and she got into a toxic fight over infinity war on her twitter with people. She’s used her twitter to be toxic several times while representing ArenaNet in her twitter profile. They likely have reprimanded her for her past behavior and this was very likely the straw that broke the camels back.

Not to mention the person she went after is basically well liked by the GW2 community and devs alike (he has an NPC in game). Deroir isn’t some rando asshat in the GW2 community and MMOINKS is someone else that isn’t a rando asshat. Both make content and stuff for GW2 and neither of them feel particularly fantastic about the whole situation.

Most onlookers aren’t really “happy” that the whole situation transpired in the first place. I don’t find joy in the fact Ms Price and Peter Fries were fired, but I do think that Ms Price deserved to be fired based on her current conduct after, her conduct during, and her conduct on twitter before this all happened at the same time.

Both Deroir and MMOINKS were very repsectful as they could be. INKS follow up tweet was

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Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

This “straw that broke the camel’s back” thing again? The idea that she had been reprimanded before is not backed up by anything JP or MO said, and it makes no sense in light of Fries’ firing. I wish people wouldn’t keep repeating it. It appears to be inaccurate.

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John Kiser

No one is going to come out and say it though Bree at least officially that she has been reprimanded in the past. I think she very likely has been though given her twitter has been toxic several times and it is highly unlikely that ArenaNet never took notice her her twitter shenanigans and said something about it.

Fries again was more collateral damage with her playing the sexism card and him basically telling the fans to shut up and that they didn’t matter. Overall regardless they went against the policy of how ArenaNet treats their fanbase in general and got punished for it.

I’m not saying it’s a definite situation. I’m just saying that it is likely that she has had past reprimands of some sort given her past behavior you know? I don’t think any company would completely let slide some stuff she’s already done before this situation without saying something to her about it.

I’m not sure Fries would of been punished as much had she not played the sexism card in the situation though. Then again he should of stayed out of it because he could see she was being toxic and adding into her behavior (dragging the whole thing on more) isn’t going to help.

I’m more of the thought that it may or may not of happened as far as her being reprimanded in the past. I was just offering that it’s a possibility that she was because of how she acts on twitter in general.

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Serrenity

I … can’t even. You are essentially saying “She says there were no reprimands, ANet hasn’t said anything about formal reprimands, but I know she was reprimanded before this despite no evidence to support that statement, and I’m going to treat it as fact and judge her conduct and the resulting disciplinary action as if she did”

Can’t you see the problem with that?

edit: In for a penny, in for a pound – I have trouble believing that we would be taking the same logical leaps if the situation were precipitated by a male.

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mike foster

I can say as someone who occasionally has a conversation with a dev about an errant tweet or comment that it’s pretty rare they’re ever documented in any official capacity, and I certainly wouldn’t be firing off tweets about how often it happened if they got fired.

I agree with Bree that it looks pretty inaccurate given what anyone can actually prove (or anyone is actually saying), but it also doesn’t mean there weren’t conversations behind the scenes.

Until otherwise confirmed, I’m of the opinion that Anet made the call based on this one primary issue, and that they probably overreacted (though we have certainly exited people for similar social mistakes at Riot).

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John Kiser

I never said she was definitely reprimanded, just that given her past behavior it is likely she was either reprimanded or watched. Maybe not kept in “official capacity”, but perhaps the situation warranted them looking into her twitter further and they saw past behavior on top of the current behavior?

You think they didn’t look into the full situation and look at her twitter fully given the whole thing. I’m sure others brought up past tweets to ANet too.

I think given the situation it wasn’t really an overreaction if they looked at anything else she’s said. Would someone that is consistently toxic toward people on their social media while having a Riot Games employee tagged on their twitter still be employed there after attacking the fan base of League directly let alone partners/content creators?

I don’t think anyone would of put up with it after ANY of it came to light despite people thinking it is a response to the reddit mob. Anyone on twitter could of taken a screen shot or shared the link with the CEO which probably still would of resulted in her being fired even if the reddit stuff didn’t happen.

People need to stop acting like she was a first time offender or that none of her past behavior was taken into account with the firing.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

People are acting as if none of her past behavior was taken into account because MO effectively said it wasn’t and because Fries had no record whatsoever and got the same punishment. This has been explained over and over and over. ArenaNet does not appear to have cared about the things the mob cares about (like the TB quote).

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John Kiser

Then they are a foolish company if they continually let someone act that toxic to the public while wearing an employee tag or they were completely unaware of it at the time. That said she should of likely been let go much sooner than she was. Had Anet paid more attention to her shenanigans she probably would of been because quite frankly she’s been hostile frequently toward people and that isn’t even a mob needed to say that the proof is right in her twitter feed.

Gaming sites need to stop the narrative that she is the victim of a reddit mob or over zealousness when she is openly toxic and hostile constantly. Yes this might of been the only situation that Anet reacted to, but that doesn’t mean it was overzealous or unwarranted entirely. Peter Fries likely got tossed under the bus from her trying to play the sexism card and his butting in the way he did. I feel bad for him simply because he seems sorry after the fact.

She is remorseless and still feels like she did nothing wrong in the entire situation. She was the one that overreacted and is openly hostile and toxic. I’d feel just a little bad if she didn’t have history of doing this and was even the littlest bit remorseful.

I only care about the TB stuff because it shows a behavioral pattern of toxicity with this woman. She could be the most white cisgender male on the planet and i’d say the same god damned thing about that person for this behavior. What they did was toxic, inappropriate for anyone bearing an employee tag in their profile, and would of gotten them fired almost anywhere far sooner than this situation did.

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Shocktor

She did nothing wrong. Period.

Recap:
1. She explains the living story and complications of the character narrative

2. YouTuber comes in and says –hey here is an easy way to do that job — and even puts an “[END]” on it — that is not discussion. No questions were asked, just plain, here is how to do your job… a YouTuber… LOL

3. She says, to him, bluntly, and plainly, thanks for telling me how to do my job.

4. YouTuber goes all out into victim-hood… Well geez I was just trying to have a discussion (he wasn’t)… he plays the crowd as a victim, even though all he did was tell her how to do her joib… no discussion… just –here you go little missy, now you can fix that difficult thing–

5. She retweets that saying that the next a**hat who wants to tell me how to do my job will be blocked (and points out how this is life as a female dev)

She did nothing wrong. Yes it is uncomfortable for someone to say “don’t tell me how to do my job” as bluntly as she did, but he should have walked away.

Instead, he plays to the crowd that he is some sort of victim because the dev lady won’t give him the time of day, and now SHE gets fired.

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John Kiser

I have never stated for a fact that there were reprimands. I simply stated that in all likelihood she has already been reprimanded in the past or that her behavior might of been watched due to past behavior.

And the same statement would be made about a male if they were being toxic on their twitter constantly as often as she is. Go read her tweets sometime and tell me no one would of done the same if it were a male again. You lot need to get off the whole “it’s because she was a woman” when you damn well know it was because she is toxic as hell.

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Geoffrey Smith

When you feel you can just assume facts into reality.

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race sweet

That is what pisses me off the most about this is that action was only taken because those she insulted where liked by the devs. If you want to fire someone for being a ass on social median I can understand, but this feels very much like ‘You insulted our friend’ with the drastic and instant action to show who Anet supports.

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John Kiser

I think they’d of gone after them had it been any member of the community or a fan in general. I don’t think it had anything to do with Deroir being well liked and everything to do with their actions. I just was more pointing out that it is in poor taste to attack both Inks and Deroir when you as a person working at Anet likely know who both of them are.

They didn’t just insult a single person either it was multiple partners and then they started down lines that were insulting the ENTIRE GW2 community (peter fries basically told them to shut up and that their opinion didn’t matter).

I think Deroir and Inks tried to be cordial and nice throughout the whole thing. No one that is a fan of GW2 really wanted this to happen in any way shape or form. As someone else stated Ms Price was shoveling dirt at the community paying no attention to the hole she was digging under herself.

I don’t think it was all that drastic with how toxic Ms Price had behaved for no reason and the fact that she’s basically not the least bit remorseful in any sort of follow up. I think it was justified because of her actions. Am I happy about it? Personally, no I’m not, but I still think she had it coming. I would of fired her too because it is rather clear she is a toxic individual to people on a regular basis. You should have a read of her twitter feed sometime. It is just mindbogglingly daft more than a couple times in the last year.

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Serrenity

She explicitly said she had no prior reprimands regarding social media usage or anything else. So it was, from a business perspective, a first offense with the most extreme possible action.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, and she also said… some other things.

IF A-Net didn’t take her to task for some of the other things that were said, then they have a serious problem and would not have fired her here. Because this, while nasty, wasn’t as serious as some of those.

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Serrenity

But a business, legally, can’t decide to just retroactively say something was a violation of policy and then suddenly decide it was a fireable offense after the fact. The world doesn’t work like that.

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mike foster

Washington is an “at will” employment state. You can get fired for any reason (or quit).

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Yeah, but misrepresenting social media policy would look very bad if it were to come up in a potential discrimination/contract/wrongful termination lawsuit. At-will doesn’t forgive all sins.

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mike foster

You are not wrong :)

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A Bellow From Below

And here I thought that unions are supposed to protect you from arbitrary “downsizing” and from abuse by the employer, not from the consequences of your own misconduct. Silly me. ;)

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mike foster

Even the most pie-in-the-sky view of unions should include that they VERY REGULARLY protect people from the consequences of their own misconduct.